Methoxsalen is a drug that has been clinically proven to decrease smoking. A study in the September issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology reveals how methoxsalen interacts with and blocks the action of a protein that breaks down nicotine. This information could aid in the development of more potent drugs to help people reduce their craving for nicotine and stop smoking.
People who have nicotine addiction continue to smoke to maintain high nicotine levels in the brain. Methoxsalen specifically prevents the protein cytochrome P450 2A6 from degrading nicotine. Cytochrome P450 2A6 also breaks down carcinogens found in tobacco to more harmful chemicals that can cause cancer. Eric Johnson and C. David Stout and colleagues show how methoxsalen binds to this protein and blocks its action. Understanding this drug interaction will help guide future studies aimed at improving inhibitor design.
Ultimately, this may lead to better drugs aimed at decreasing nicotine dependence that at the same time could also reduce the risk of tobacco-related cancers.
Eric F. Johnson (The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA)
C. David Stout (The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA)
Abstract of the paper is available online.
(C) Nature Structural & Molecular Biology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza